A senior Pakistani Taliban commander was killed when his car exploded in eastern Afghanistan, a militant source told AFP.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said an announcement would be made shortly regarding “the martyrdom of a main chiefof the movement, but a source within the TTP told AFP that it was Abdul Wali, a commander who used the alias Omar Khalid Khorasani.
His death could jeopardize a fragile ceasefire reached between the TTP and the Pakistani government in June, as peace talks mediated by the Afghan Taliban progressed. The Pakistani army said on Tuesday that four soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on a military convoy in North Waziristan, where the TTP has a strong presence, on the border with Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban of the TTP are a distinct group from the Afghan Taliban, but driven by the same ideology and a long common history.
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According to the TTP source, who asked not to be identified, Abdul Wali and two other commanders were killed when their car was “targetedin the province of Paktika, bordering Waziristan, in eastern Afghanistan. “When we arrived at his vehicle, it was on fire, but the nature of the explosion is not yet clearsaid this source, adding that Abdul Wali was returning from a meeting with TTP leader Noor Wali Mehsud.
Anger of Pakistanis
Abdul Wali has been a thorn in the side of the Pakistani authorities for more than a decade. In 2014, he formed a separate and more militant faction of the TTP, known as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which claimed some of the country’s deadliest attacks, including a suicide bombing in Lahore on Easter Sunday 2016, which killed 75 people. He announced two years ago a merger with the TTP, which declared last June a “indefinite ceasefirewith Islamabad after the start of Afghan Taliban-brokered peace talks in Kabul.
These peace talks have angered many Pakistanis, who remember the TTP’s brutal attacks, including on schools, hotels, churches and markets. Since the Afghan Taliban returned to power in Kabul a year ago, Islamabad has increasingly complained of TTP attacks, especially along the porous border with Afghanistan. The new regime in Kabul has always assured that it will not allow militant groups to use Afghan soil to launch attacks against its neighbors.